Monday, May 23, 2011

On Writing

I was delighted to see Julie Rinard at the Chamber of Commerce Evening with the Stars, an event honoring outstanding local businesses and individuals. Julie told me that she reads my monthly column in the Chamber’s newsletter. I do not have a by-line on the column so I asked her how she knew I wrote it. She replied, “Because it sounds like you.”

Hooray, I have a voice. But what about structure, force, brevity, clarity, color? I have not thought much about writing for years. I was required to take a writing class in law school. The course helped me become a good technical write–just the facts, ma’am. I did not have to worry about those pesky adjectives and adverbs. I did do a lot of technical writing and editing in my various jobs. As a bureaucrat, I mastered the passive voice (a bad thing) and as a consultant, I concentrated on clarity and brevity (a good thing).

Now I am writing some articles and signed up for Word Catchers, a series of writing workshop sponsored by Envision Kalama as a fundraiser for the Kalama Library. The event took place on April 23-the only sunny day in April. I took a morning class on storytelling given by Jack Hart, an editor at large and writing coach for the Oregonian. I am reading his book, “A Writer’s Coach: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies That Work.” I plan to buy his book on storytelling when it is published next month. (Up to this time, my writing bible has been Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style”.) The afternoon workshop was Reading for Writers led by Brian Doyle. His latest book, “Mink River,” is one of the best books I have ever read. Both of these workshops were inspirational. Thanks to Mary Putka and Molly Ciancibelli for a well-planned, educational and delicious event. I urge anyone who reads or writes to attend Word Catchers next year.

Meanwhile, the Columbia River Reader is looking for writers for its new website: More information is available on the website or on page 10 of the May 15 issue. That issue also contains Alan Rose’s review of “Lean on Pete” by Scappoose writer Willy Vlautin. Mr. Vlautin’s novel won two Oregon Book Awards: the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction and Reader’s Choice. He will be discussing and reading from his book at WordFest on June 7. Let’s all do the write thing!

June Activities and Opportunities

June is the calm before the hurricane of summer activities. Enjoy.

First Thursday Activities – June 2

Broadway Gallery, 1418 Commerce, Longview
Student Art Show and Zimbabwe Artists Project.
Reception 5:30-7:30pm. Music by Farrell Harris and Connie Wallace. Door Prizes.

Lord & McCord Art Works, 1416 Commerce, Longview
Ms. Marie with collage boxes and purses. Linda McCord will talk about digital photography and reproductions at 6pm.
Reception 5–7pm.

LCC Gallery at the Rose Center, 15th & Washington, Longview
Annual Student Art Exhibit.
Open until 7pm.

Teague's Interiors, 1267 Commerce, Longview
Photographs by Mary Ann Dawkins.
Reception 5:30-7pm.

The Bistro, 1329 Commerce Avenue, Longview
Wine tasting. Live music. Door prizes. Reservations recommended.
Hours: 5-8pm.

Cowlitz County Historical Museum, 405 Allen St, Kelso
“Remembering Mount St Helens,” illustrated program about Mt St Helens by author Christine Colasurdo, joined by Susan Saul and Darryl Lloyd. Audience members will be encouraged to share their stories.
Program begins at 7pm; museum open until 9pm.


May 26-June 11: “The Adding Machine.”
LCC Center Stage. 7:30pm. $8 adults, $7 students/seniors. LCC Rose Center for the Arts, 15th Ave & Washington, Longview Wash. Info: 360-442-2682.

June 7: WordFest Willy Vlautin, award-winning writer from Scappoose. 6-8pm. The Brits, 1427 Commerce, Longview, Wash. Info: 360-425-3430x280.

June 8: Lower Columbia College Jam Bank Concert
June 10: Lower Columbia College Symphonic Band Concert
June 14: Lower Columbia College Jazz Band Concert
June 16: Lower Columbia College Community Choir Concert
7:30pm. Wollenberg Auditorium, LCC Rose Center for the Arts, 15th Ave & Washington, Longview Wash. Info:


Call for Vendors: The Longview Downtowners are seeking vendors for produce, crafts, art, flowers, plants, food, etc. for new downtown community market. 12' x12' booth space; $15 daily fee. Friday Night Market will open June 3, 4-9. Info: Jeannette Palfy 360-903-3329 or

Call for Vendors: Kelso Downtown Spring Fling seeking artists, crafters, food vendors, etc. June 18, 10-4. Booths available for $15. 203 S. Pacific Avenue, Kelso, Wash. Info: 360-423-4816.

Call for Artists: Broadway Gallery seeking artists for their Miniatures show, July 1-30. Any medium; 2-D art, no larger than 5”x7” framed; 3-D art no larger than 4”x 4”. Info: 360-577-0544.

Children’s Auditions: Missoula Children’s Theatre Company will audition children grades 1-12 for Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs. June 27, 10am. Show performance will be July 2 at 3 and 5:30pm. Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts, 1231 Vandercook Way, Longview, Wash. Info: 360-575-8499.